Entries Tagged 'Elections' ↓

Where’s Councilor Count Alex Jensen?

When I helped Greg Neitzert run for his first term, we were clear with him about what he needed to do to win the seat; announce before everyone else, and knock on doors like a mofo. Greg not only announced early, knocked on hundreds of doors, but also put out effective mailers. I think he also spent under $10K, and he won by quite a bit in a large pool of candidates. I will admit, there was no incumbent for the seat, but that just meant he had to work harder to get his name out there.

I had to laugh about a month ago when a frequent commenter on DWC, said that a ‘dead’ Jensen could beat Theresa Stehly. Well I would certainly agree with one part of his comment, Alex Jensen’s campaign has been one of the most well funded and lifeless campaigns I have ever seen in the history of city politics.

While he did announce early, he hasn’t really done much of anything else. In fact, a lot of people who don’t even like Theresa have said to me, ‘What does he stand for? I haven’t heard a peep from him.’ All the while his campaign manager goes around complaining about the incumbent (who hasn’t even announced yet – and may not).

I think Jensen’s campaign is wasting valuable time. I am quite certain that if Theresa decides to NOT run, there will a bevy of candidates that will run against Jensen (I know of at least two who are interested if Theresa decides to not run).

Wouldn’t you be concentrating your energy on telling people who you are instead of having your little campaign troll spend all day on FB calling Theresa a bully? Ironic, I know.

Could Alex Jensen beat Theresa Stehly in a one to one race? Sure. But not a ‘dead’ Jensen. I think it is the first time I have seen a vampire run for city council, but certainly not the first time a ‘bloodsucker’ would serve on the dais.

Former Sioux Falls Mayor Rick Knobe posts on FB about his feelings of big money in City Council race

While I don’t agree with all of Rick’s points, he asks some very good questions;

Confession time. I’m feeling torn.

Back on the boat in Mobile, Alabama. Plan is to finish my Great Loop Adventure in next two months. Retirement is good. I worked hard and know I’ve made an impact on Sioux Falls, and those around me.

In Sioux Falls, and now in Pierre, things are happening.

The at-large council seat is up, along with three district positions. The at-large incumbent, Theresa Stehly has not yet announced her intentions.

A young man has announced and he has been given a huge amount of money(about 70 thousand as if this writing) to defeat her. Contributors include the usual big money folks, mostly connected Republicans.

Standing out is a 10,000 dollar check from former Governor Dennis Daugaard. Obviously the former Governor can donate money to anyone he wants. But this is the same Governor who worked hard to ban out of state money from state elections, speaking out, and signing a bill outlawing the practice. That bill was ultimately determined to be unconstitutional.

Last I knew Dennis and his wife lived near Garretson, outside of Sioux Falls. Are large contributions of out of city money ok for city elections in his mind, but not out of state money for state wide elections?

His contribution is probably legal, but in the face of previous statements and actions is he being ethically consistent?

Back to the election. Stehly’s opponent vows to raise well over $100,000. The four year job pays less than $20,000 a year. Are he and his people “jumping the shark?”( reference to the Happy Days TV show. The Fonz waterskiing while dressed in his jeans and leather jacket, jumping over a shark).

I don’t know the candidate. His pledge to raise more than five, nearly six times the salary seems beyond excessive. Is he motivated to serve or only to win? What does he want to do to improve life in Sioux Falls?

The mayor has created a PAC. He has given money to sitting council members he wants re-elected. Legal? Probably. Ethical? No definitive answer. He is the first mayor in Sioux Falls history to create a PAC. Is he mimicking the big dogs from DC?

One could ask, does he want to serve us, the citizens, or does he want to be a powerbroker?

In Pierre, we are only a few days into the session and already 42 legislators have signed onto a bill putting themselves, and maybe us, if the bill passes, into medical advice and treatment rooms to make felons out of professionals helping individuals and families deal with one of the most complex issues of human bodies, brains, and emotions, gender identity.

I consider myself relatively intelligent. I have talked with a physician who helps deal with people suffering from a gender identity issue. (He lives In Minnesota). It’s complicated. Very complicated.

I feel for people dealing the sex identity problems. I know enough to know, I don’t know enough about it to offer advice. I certainly don’t want to be in the treatment room and I don’t want elected officials in there either, in person or thru laws they pass.

I wonder what else is coming in Pierre? It’s scary.

I’m hoping those of you who care about local and state government will speak up and take action. Testify. Vote. Get involved.

We might not be able to influence the idiocy in Washington, but we can and should stop it in Pierre and prevent it from infecting Sioux Falls.


Of course Alex Jensen’s campaign manager, Matt Paulson had to respond (twice);

Matt Paulson – The issue is not dissenting Ms. Stehly’s votes and a need to control everything. The issue is with how she treats people that she disagrees with, which is very poorly. She seems unable to have a reasonable disagreement without declaring all out war. After repeated phone calls, underhanded blog posts that she orchestrated, complaints by her about me to numerous community leaders, threatening to vote against future funding for an organization she thought I was affiliated with and using her position as a city councilor to attack someone that has political disagreements with her in a public meeting, I’ve just had enough. She bullies people and tries to intimidate people into not speaking out against her by using whatever leverage she can find (usually calling people’s employers). It’s wrong. City officials should treat citizens, including those they disagree with, with respect. Frankly, That’s the main reason why I and others are working to elect someone else to that seat.

First off, NO ONE tells me what to post. Sure, people, including Stehly, have given me suggestions, but in the past, if they want to say something I suggest a ‘guest post’. I disagree with Theresa on a whole host of issues, and we have had our share of incredible fights. Remember, I have been blogging for almost 14 years, well before I knew Theresa, Cameraman Bruce and others. Ask them and they will all say the same, “I can’t tell Scott what to post.”

She should vote against future funding of the SFDF, especially when they use tax dollars to promote a candidate and violate laws. I would expect my elected officials to hold them to a higher standard.

It is also the job of elected officials to hold PUBLIC entities and their employees accountable, especially those who get public money.

Matt Paulson – One thing to consider is that every candidate is going to use the “tools in the toolbox” they have available to them to try to win an election. For Jensen, that is trying to leverage the establishment vote and the financial resources that come with that vote. For Stehly, that means using her elected office as a means to campaign, using her newsletter in the shopper, painting herself as the defender of the little guy. and showing up to as many events/meetings as she can because she does not have a full-time job outside of being a council member. I have a hard time believing that she, or any candidate for that matter, wouldn’t raise more money to win an election if that was a tool they had available to them.

All of the things you mention are called ‘doing her job’. C’mon Matt, are you that ignorant? BTW, when is Alex going to campaign or even tell us what his issues and stances are? Let’s say Theresa doesn’t run, and someone like Knobe gets in the race, is he just going to depend on his smiling face to win the race? Rick would kick his ass. I told someone the other day that it seems Jensen is taking the John Paulson approach to campaigning, “Stay positive and don’t take any stances.” Last I checked, Paulson spent a lot of money, and lost twice, first to Stehly than to Brekke. Not sure why you need to march forth on this losing strategy? But whatever. The only way you will win a council seat, especially running against a popular incumbent is by knocking on doors. All the money, yard signs and billboards won’t make a difference. And ironically, all of this hoopla, and Stehly hasn’t even announced if she will run again.

First Public Sioux Falls City Council Operations Committee meeting

The operations committee has never met in the 7 years they have existed in public until a couple of months away from a city election in which the chair, Neitzert is up for re-election. Shocker. Towards the end, Councilor Brekke schooled them on the legal repercussions of using cell phones during public meetings (FF: 52:30)

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly was on the attack yesterday, and it was the ‘Good Fight’

First, the obvious – The First Amendment DOES not protect free speech when comes to using tax dollars to promote a political candidate. This doesn’t even take a Constitutional scholar to figure it out. This is why Trump was impeached in Congress. He was withholding tax dollars to help his presidential candidacy.

While I understand a local entrepreneur casually mentioning a city council candidate he is helping out in an article funded by two institutions that receive some tax funding (state and city) may seem not as grand as what our president did, it is still worth talking about and correcting.

I was extremely irritated that some elected officials on the council chose to defend this obvious violation of free speech rights and state law.

Just because you violate campaign rules ‘a little bit’ doesn’t make it alright. That essentially was their argument.

While what councilors Brekke, Stehly and citizen Bruce Danielson said may have been uncomfortable, it was very appropriate to say and the right time to say it, in a public meeting. No one was advocating to arrest anyone, no one was going to throw some one in jail or fine them. This was simply an effort to ‘nip it in the butt’ before it became common place. People make mistakes, we get it.

Over the past day, I have told several people that Matt Paulson (Alex Jensen’s quasi-campaign manager, treasurer and fundraiser) did nothing wrong, neither did Siouxfalls.business. Stehly wasn’t attacking them, she was simply telling the Sioux Falls Development Foundation (and I guess DSU) that moving forward they should not promote certain candidates because they receive public money.

This isn’t an attack, it’s a fact, and many journalists and citizens agree.

We know what’s going on here, and we have been seeing this across the state for several years. The Republican establishment (a very small elitist group) has controlled our State House for almost 50 years, and they are trying to take control of our County Commissions, State’s Attorney offices and other non-partisan government entities like city councils and school boards. I want to clarify, I have voted for ‘good’ Republicans (like Stehly, Brekke, Staggers and Jamison) on these non-partisan bodies, because they have integrity and want to keep party affiliation out of politics. The group I am referring to is a very small group of ‘know it all’ elitist, establishment Republicans that want to control their business interests, and they see an opportunity here, though their actions look more like ‘amateur hour’.

I have said it already, they are using candidates like Jensen for city council, Cynthia Mickelson for school board and State’s Attorney candidates like Haggar and Bengford to stack the deck and implement their pro-corporate welfare of government, these are NOT Republicans in the sense of tradition, these are elitist greed mongers that only pray to one God; money. Don’t believe me? Why else would the South Dakota GOP Chair, a Jewish Iowa businessman lobby for an Islamic theocratic government? Because party doesn’t matter, only money and greed.

So yes, Stehly was on the attack yesterday. She was attacking greed, corruption, partisanship, lack of integrity and lack of open government. And not just ‘a little bit’ but a lot.

UPDATE: Just How does the Sioux Falls Development Foundation use our money?

Just for clarification on the video below, it may have been Rick Kiley who actually said ‘More Fabrication’ and NOT Neitzert, but we are uncertain.

UPDATE: Stehly questioned the head of the Development Foundation today at the informational meeting about this. It was a good discussion. I think Brekke and Danielson explained the reason why this isn’t protected speech;

Councilor Janet Brekke as well as civic watchdog Bruce Danielson countered, though, saying because the Sioux Falls Development Foundation receives public funds, it is held to a higher standard when it comes to political speech.

State Law on this is also very clear;

Universal Citation: SD Codified L § 12-27-20

12-27-20. Expenditure of public funds to influence election outcome prohibited. The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or such political subdivisions in his or her personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question.

Source: SL 2007, ch 80, § 20.

I was happy to hear the head of the Development Foundation say that the board will look into this.

The taxpayers of Sioux Falls have donated millions of tax dollars to the SFDF for supposed workforce development. So how do they spend their money? They buy an article on Siouxfalls.business about the treasurer of Alex Jensen’s council campaign, Matt Paulson. Can you say possible conflict of interest?

This paid piece is sponsored by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

While I don’t take issue with them paying for an article about Paulson, he has many achievements, I take issue with an organization who receives tax dollars from us (even if it is coming out of a different ‘pool’) on a person who is currently engaged with at least one city council race (maybe two).

The SFDF should have steered clear of this possible conflict. I do think they are a decent organization that does some good in our community, but when you are receiving tax dollars and other special incentives from the city and citizens, this just looks bad.

A complete waste of the “search Function”

Guest Post, Bruce Danielson

Have you heard the expression “hiding in plain sight”?

The city of Sioux Falls has found a way to once again hide data while claiming transparency. The webpage https://amv.siouxfalls.org/publicaccess/docs/searchq/ is absolutely worthless.

The basics of open government is present data simple choice of options, in a usable form, with a functional sort order and a presentation of results best usable by requestor.

The City Clerk’s public access page is a failure of huge proportions. First off you have to know the names or phrases before you start or you will receive no results. In other words, you have to know the exact spelling of the report before you can ask the system if it exists. The secret PACs are not listed so anyone could easily review the activity or even if a filing was made.

BTW, do the secret PACs still have money? Notice in the date stamped 1/6/2020 Greg Neitzert filing how the Mayor TenHaken secret Next Generation Leadership PAC gave $250. Now try to find any information on the Next Generation Leadership PAC. Why is the Mayor of Sioux Falls hiding with Joel Dykstra behind a secret PAC to influence who is going to be on the City Council? Any good political operative would have stayed out of (at least publicly) the City Council races. Just think, if Neitzert is defeated, how close do you think the eventual winner is going to be willing to help the loser mayor?

Now back to the unfriendly City Clerk’s search system. There is no simple way to follow a series of events.  The results do not a have any dates on the results so you have to research everything presented to see how it fits. A long and frustrating process designed to stop real searches from happening or being attempted.

We have a “supposed” web expert in the big office of City Hall and it actually shows. It shows how to hide data at the same time claiming transparency.

As I predicted, The Sioux Falls Charter Revision Commission did very little in 2019

As I suspected from the get go, the CRC found a way to kill any meaningful legislation for the city’s April election. Oh but they did find a way to make it more difficult to petition our government;

The petitions shall contain or have attached thereto throughout their circulation the full text of the proposed charter amendment and must be signed by registered voters of the city in the number of at least 5 percent of the total number of registered voters at the last regular city election, or the number of signatures required by state law, whichever is greater.

In other words they are trying to get the voters to pass rules that they have already decided to implement on Triple Check the Charter. Yes, folks, they are applying rules that haven’t been amended yet. Isn’t that special? I also got a kick out of the attorney’s explanation on the ballot;

City Attorney’s Explanation of Amendment B:
The current language is, at times, less stringent in its requirements for charter amendment than what is required by the State Constitution. Such is not permissible under State law, which requires the standards of City charter and ordinances to be at least as stringent as State law. The proposed change, as approved and submitted by the Charter Revision Commission, would ensure that the requirements set forth in the charter for voter initiation of a charter amendment are at least as stringent as those set forth in the State Constitution, thus satisfying State law.

What they are basically saying is we MUST vote yes to satisfy State Law. My question is why aren’t we doing that already? And why are we voting on it? I’ll give you my explanation, you can vote NO on this, there is NO requirement we follow state law on this because we are a Home Rule Charter city, we make the rules when it comes to OUR elections. The SOS doesn’t run our local elections, and he shouldn’t. Don’t believe this poppycock, it is just a scare tactic to make it more difficult to petition our government in Sioux Falls and little else. They are trying to hoodwink the voters into passing this, because they know the requirement is not needed.

I vaguely remember the chair of CRC saying at the beginning of the 2019 meetings that it is the CRC’s job to make sure nothing harmful gets on the ballot that could have unintended consequences if passed. Kettle meet black.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert’s donation list; Quid Pro Quo?

Okay, I jest. I’m not comparing Greg to Donnie boy, but there are some strange similarities between who cut Greg checks and certain votes he has cast over the past 4 years.

You may not recognize some of these names, but if you look at the ones highlighted, they have all benefited from some of the stances and votes Neitzert has taken. Kirby Muilenberg especially stands out, with all his convoluted VL Casino ordinances.

At least with Alex Jensen, he hasn’t cast any votes yet on the council, but Neitzert’s donor list screams ‘follow the money.’

While I don’t support his candidacy this time around, because he turned his back on his promise of open and transparent government, I think Neitzert could easily be re-elected simply based on his incumbency, and he really didn’t need to raise this kind of money. Like Jensen, I think the establishment Republicans are using Greg as a strange experiment of trying to control non-partisan local governments in our state, and it makes me a little sick to my stomach.

TenHaken’s goofy PAC also gave $250 towards Neitzert’s campaign. I guess the Man-Children need to stick together.

Keep your eye on Greg though, his re-election may not be such a ‘sure thing’. There are also some powerful forces behind his opponent that are working hard behind the scenes, and I’m not talking about the small donation from Randy Seilor.

For the record, I am NOT involved with any city council races as of today. That may change, but I may be sitting this one out.

UPDATE: Ironically Greg posted this on FB two days ago. I guess he knows me well. He also knows I know him very well . . . Nothing like killing the messenger before I even show up to the forum 🙂

Hey Greg, it’s kind of hard to respond to an online attack that didn’t happen for another two days. And really, it’s not an attack, it’s the truth.

UPDATE II: Mysterious LLCs donate $2,500 to Jensen’s campaign

UPDATE II: Here is an updated Jensen donor list with references to the businesses/employment the donors are associated with.

This is even better where it breaks down it down into donor groups.

Besides the fact that Alex has gotten $10,000 from Dennis Dopey our former governor, he also raked in big contributions from local developers and banksters in town. READ FULL REPORT.

Less than 7% was small donations of $100 or less.

But one of the most interesting contributions came from a list of 3 LLC’s ran by this guy, Kevin Tupy. They all have the same PO box address at the UPS store. I always get a kick out of how people try to hide their identity when giving to political campaigns or wiggling around the rules. If Tupy gave individually he would have only been able to give $1,000 but this little trick was able to put his contribution up to $2,500 while hiding his identity. Notice he did NOT give an individual donation.

Even more interesting is that Mr. TenHaken’s PAC did not give any money to Jensen. No worries, I’m sure he will be plugging money into it the second round of fundraising because that report won’t come out until right before the election.

Even though Jensen has raised a lot of money, I’m curious when he will actually be campaigning? Even if Stehly does not run (I think she will) wouldn’t you want to be campaigning in case you have another challenger? I have heard NOTHING about his stances on the issues. Does he have any? People have told me he knows little about city government and will get mopped by Stehly in any forum or debate.

I still believe Stehly can beat Jensen by at least 6 points without spending a single penny. And if she does, there is going to be a lot of sore LLCs and PACs in town 🙂

UPDATE: I also find it interesting that $18,000 in donations came from out of Sioux Falls ($10K-Daugaard, $8K from other towns). Mostly from High Profile Republicans and PACS, this tells me they are making this race partisan. While I did see a ‘couple’ of the donors are indies or Dems, that I know of, this is about getting an ‘establishment’ Republican elected. Stehly, though a Republican, has always performed her roll non-partisan (because, that is what the seat is). I think there are people in the party who want to kick her out, but I also know there are many that like her.

There was a recent Argus article/survey it asked people to identify local politicians, media, celebrities, etc. Theresa was on the survey, she got 44% of people being able to recognize her. Christine Erickson was on the survey to, she got 26%. Would have been interesting to see Jensen and Huether on the list.

SF Councilor Theresa Stehly 44%

Governor Kristi Noem 90%

Sen. John Thune 85%

Sen. Mike Rounds 83%

Rep. Dusty Johnson 80%

Mayor Paul TenHaken 75%

Councilor Christine Erickson 26%

SFSB President Cynthia Mickelson 21%

Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden 15%

I told a friend last night that if Stehly decides to run, the best move by Alex would be to drop out, send the donations back and save himself the embarrassment.

Alex Jensen raises $64K for Sioux Falls City Council Race

Let’s pretend for a moment you are not following the city council races at all. Let’s also pretend that you have no idea who Jensen or Stehly is. Then you saw the story in the newspaper that Mr. Jensen raised this much money for a city council race. What would your logical question be after that? “Who is running against Mr. Jensen?” Well at this point nobody. So why on earth would anyone feel they needed to raise $64K? Even if Stehly decides to NOT run for re-election, Alex could still get a challenger. Stehly will ultimately have to make up her mind in the coming weeks. The last time I spoke to her about the issue last week, she still was undecided.

If I was a guessing man, my guess is that Stehly will run for re-election. I expect her to actually spend less than she spent last time she ran (I think it was around $8,000). Money doesn’t always bode well for votes, as Sneve pointed out in his story. You also have to remember, Stehly is popular and the incumbent. The only people that have a problem with Big ‘T’ are the Big Shots in town. You also have to expect a low voter turnout, because this is a municipal election in a NON-Mayoral run year. And when the numbers are low, that means more informed voters show up to the polls.

I have nothing personal against Mr. Jensen, I just think head to head with Big ‘T’, she is the better candidate. She has proven she will work with constituents and she really has gotten a lot of things done, even without passing ordinances. Is she loud and forceful sometimes? Sure. But you have to be; “Well behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher

There is one main reason they want Theresa gone, because she tells the public what is going on, and the big wheels in town don’t like big mouths.

The Argus asked Stehly to provide a quote for the Jensen story, and they wouldn’t print it, so here it is;

“I’m wishing the citizens a Blessed Christmas Season and asking for prayers for all elected leaders. I will continue to serve the residents with loving, positive and responsive leadership.”

And I’m sure Theresa will hold the door of the elevator at first floor and not just send it back down later.